WorldWideFuture Weblog

the future of education, politics, science and art

Small step forward, giant leap….?

Here on the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, it is heartbreaking to watch the scenes of the Apollo astronauts bouncing or riding across the lunar landscape, to know that we came and went and went no further.

Aldrin on the Moon 1969

Aldrin on the Moon 1969

To think human kind was able to motivate hundreds of thousands of people to take those dramatic steps, to reach the pinnacle of human achievement, to develop such amazing technology in such a short span of time, only to stop dead in our tracks and walk away. It is a shame, and to the generations of young people who did not have the benefits of continuing inspiration to dream and to accomplish dramatic things…it is something that needs to be addressed.

Consider first principals: that to solve the issues of environment and food production and housing and health, young people need to be encouraged to pursue scientific and technological and engineering careers. There is only a few motivational paths that can spark the intense interest to “dream the incredible, do the impossible”:

1. War. Great technological leaps, but certainly not useful in the long run.

2.   Altruism (solving cancer, feeding the world, solving the environmental crises). Certainly laudable, but the problems are multi-generational, quite intractable and while it attracts individuals who can chip away at the problems, it is difficult to focus the masses to create the technological spark.

3. Go where no one has gone before. The hard focus that can lead to so many unexpected paths, products and services. By setting  the impossible goal, by creating the WOW project, people will be motivated to be innovative and creative and risk taking. Going to the moon was not about the science, it was about the engineering and problem solving. Read the Chariots for Apollo or the story of the 1986 Voyager aircraft round-the-world tip to get a sense of what that means.

It is images like this that inspired generations

It is images like this that inspired generations

I don’t intend to wax nostalgic about the “good ol’ days”, nor do I intend to belittle the incredible disruptive technological advancements of the past 40 years, but I think the young people of today need a WOW project that will give them the incentive to “reach for the stars”. ‘Be all that you can be’ should be astronaut, not soldier.

Mars is a laudable goal for sure, but may be too far away in time. The moon beckons, and it will eventually lead to the inevitable evolution of humankind…Mars and beyond. A colony on the moon may be the answer to developing a wide raft of valuable technology in the medical, food production, energy production, communications and materials engineering fields, as well as more we can’t yet imagine.

The best and the brightest need an attractor to focus on solving the world’s problems, and that is accomplished through grand adventure. The world wide future need a WOW! project.

Consider this: what powered the 1960’s Apollo spacecraft? Hydrogen fuel cells.

Advertisements

July 21, 2009 Posted by | education, Environment, future, sustainable future | , , , , , | Leave a comment